Achieving a high level of proficiency at playing the piano requires dedication and the right instruction. Students at the New Tampa Piano & Pedagogy Academy (NTPPA) on Cross Creek Blvd. demonstrated that they have both, as all 16 of the academy’s students participating in a recent Royal Conservatory of Music exam scored 90 or higher, earning the highest classification — First Class Honors with Distinction.
The Royal Conservatory of Music is the largest and oldest independent arts educator in Canada. The Toronto-based institution’s influence extends internationally through its examination program, which measures a musician’s performance skill and technique. In addition to a grade, participants receive a certificate and written feedback about their performance.
Judith Jain, Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.), founder and executive director of NTPPA, says the Royal Conservatory exam results validate the teaching methods she and her instructors use.
“It’s not a coincidence that you have 16 students taught by just the three of us (see below) all scoring 90s,” says Dr. Jain, a Pebble Creek resident. “It’s the methodology.” She notes that her students’ high scores indicate flawless execution and a high level of artistic expression in performing the exam’s musical pieces.
The name of Dr. Jain’s music instruction studio, one mile west of Morris Bridge Rd. on Cross Creek Blvd., reflects her background and approach to teaching music. She earned her D.M.A. in Piano Performance and Pedagogy (the method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept) from University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, OH. She has performed as a soloist, with chamber groups and orchestras.
Visitors to NTPPA’s website will read this quote from Dr. Jain: “I teach children so that I can learn from them.” It’s a teaching perspective that Jain says distinguishes her academy from others.
“That’s basic to our philosophy,” she says. “We’re looking at music from all angles because music is not one dimensional.”
Jain opened NTPPA two years ago, when the number of students she was teaching as a private instructor grew beyond what she could accommodate herself. After finding a space adjacent to the New Tampa Dance Theatre (see story on page 22), she outfitted it with a selection of Yamaha grand and upright pianos, as well as a Clavinova digital piano laboratory. Jain also hired faculty to teach, all of whom have Master’s degrees related to music or education.
“I found the right people to work with,” Jain says. “The degree is a given, but the mindset is important.”
Speaking Of Those Instructors…
NTPPA instructor Jane West is a pianist and music scholar with a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in Historical Musicology from Tufts University in Medford, MA. She has experience as a soloist and chamber music performer. According to West, there is no age limit to learning about music and playing the piano.
“From the moment a child is born up to the point they can take private lessons, which would be roughly 5 or 6 years old,” West says, “there’s that period when you can teach a child concepts and musicianship skills; a sense of rhythm, pitch, being able to sing back and clap back. Those are all skills that then a student can develop in a private (instructional) setting.”
Dr. Jain says that integral to early childhood music education is NTPPA’s Musikgarten program, which is under the direction of Beth Maberry, who has a Master of Education (M.Ed.) from the University of South Florida in Tampa at the Academy.
Music is appreciated by people of all ages and anyone who wants to learn how to play the piano can do so at NTPPA, no matter what stage they are at in their lives.
“We believe music is for everybody and we’re here to facilitate your relationship with music,” says Dr. Jain.
For adults who are seeking to expand their skills and horizons, there is the opportunity to combine private lessons and a bit of socializing with occasional group performances and recitals. Dr. Jain says her academy can even create a music education plan for a busy professional or someone with extra time to fill.
“We will craft a program with the person in front of us in mind,” she says.
Even For Recreational Pianists
A new program that the Academy is beginning in the fall is called Recreational Music Making. Jain says it is oriented toward older adults and their needs and interests.
“It’s about wellness and engaging the mind and improving the quality of life for senior citizens, rather than mastering a piece of music,” she says.
As a member of NTPPA’s piano faculty, Aline Giampietro, who has an M.A. degree in Piano Performance from Eastern Washington University in Spokane, sees the commonality of students whatever their age or purpose.
“I want them to really love music and get that in their lives,” Giampietro says. “We teach such a range of students that we can gear the lessons to whatever their goal is.”
Jain says whatever goals or learning styles her students have, she and her faculty will accommodate them.
“We teach to the way you learn,” she says. “Usually it’s the other way around.”
Jain also says she is conducting a search for another faculty member because the demand for instruction at NTPPA is increasing.
While a career in music may be the goal for some students, there are plenty of benefits along the way, as parents of some of Jain’s youngest students will attest.
Sonia Mesaros of Grand Hampton has two children, ages 6 and 10, enrolled at NTPPA. She appreciates how it has helped them develop their educational skills, as well as being a creative outlet.
“I’m seeing that it’s transferring into their academics, especially mathematics and the ability to multitask,” she says.
Mandel Pickett also has two children receiving lessons from Dr. Jain and her faculty. He appreciates how the lessons have encouraged his nine-year-old son to become a musical mentor to his seven-year-old brother.
“He plays his entire lesson from memory and he helps his brother out, which really impresses me,” Pickett says.
Eighth-grade student Ashley Viradiya of Tampa Palms attends Terrace Community Middle School in Thonotosassa and has been playing piano for six years, the last two at NTPPA. She is enthusiastic about how music has enhanced her life.
“The piano can help you with creativity and it helps you with many skills,” Ashley says. “It can open up your senses and help you understand things.” Her father, Naresh Viradiya, concurs.
“I have observed a great improvement in her skills,” Naresh says.
While Dr. Jain is pleased with the Royal Conservatory of Music test scores, she puts the results in perspective.
“Whether or not a student takes the test, we teach the same way,” she says.
Of the 16 students taking the Royal Conservatory of Music exam, 12 are from New Tampa and four are from Wesley Chapel. The New Tampa students are: Tanvi Balan, Phu Doan, Niral Gaddi, Bhavya Gudaru, Aeon Johnson, Micah Lawrence, Priya Majethia, Vinesh Mesaros, Pavani Parashar, Abraham Schrader, Ashley Viradiya and William Piriou. The Wesley Chapel students are: Milana Schemkes, Sofia Gonzalez, Lauren Scotch and Benjamin Scotch.
The New Tampa Piano and Pedagogy Academy is located at 10701 Cross Creek Blvd. You can learn more by visiting NewTampaPPA.com, or calling 994-2452.